“Botanical” A Place To Go

I finished designing my latest quilt called  Botanical, this morning.

Sun streamed through the window into the kitchen,  I sat on one of the wrought iron chairs, with the plastic-covered seats, around the table.   Usually, we sat in the only lived-in room in the house, where my grandmother spent most of her day, watching TV, talking on the phone and mending her stockings.

When we sat in the kitchen it was because my grandmother was making something special, like the Sicilian pizza or sfinge (fried dough balls rolled in sugar) she made once a year.

My sister and I visited my grandmother, who lived upstairs from us, every day after school.  Not because we wanted to, but because we had to.  My grandmother was not the kindly old woman that the word “grandmother” usually evokes.

I was shy around her and intimidated by her. Sometimes she would tell us stories about the children of friends, or the soap operas she was watching,  but we didn’t talk to each other.  The whole time I was there I’d be trying to think up an excuse to leave as quickly as possible.

But sometimes, my sister and I would be alone in my grandmother’s living room.

It was one of those rooms that were only used when company visited. The Baroque style furniture was covered in plastic.  A glass chandelier hung from the ceiling and on one end of the room was a huge credenza.  Behind the doors, which rolled into the piece of furniture,  was a black and white TV that I don’t remember anyone every watching.  On top of it was an oversized porcelain figurine of a 17th-century man, down on one knee holding the hand of a sitting woman in a beautiful gown, her white hair piled high on her head.

I don’t know what the circumstances were that my sister and I got to play in that room by ourselves, I only remember acting out the scene that was going on in the porcelain figurine. One of us sitting on the couch while the other kneeled before her proposing marriage or whatever story we came up with.

Actually every room in my grandmother’s house, except the sitting room, was kind of magical.

In the dining room one wall was covered in mirrors.  Even her bathroom, though the exact same set up as ours downstairs, seemed more elegant.  It smelled like powder, the fixtures were blue instead of pink, the extra toilet paper covered with a crocheted doll, a soft fluffy cover on the toilet seat.

And even the kitchen, though well used, had one wall, papered in a scene from an Italian Villa.

In the mural there was an archway with a birdcage hanging from it and wrought iron chairs leading to a garden.  Like the wardrobe that led to Narnia,  I could imagine stepping into the scene while my grandmother talked and cooked.  It was a magical place to go to.  An escape while never leaving my chair.

Although it’s very different, when I look at my quilt “Botanical“, that’s what I think of.  The other side of my grandmother.  The one I only knew from the rooms in her house that I usually wasn’t allowed in.  The ones that transformed her upstairs apartment into a Venetian Palace.

Botanical is a magical place to go when you can’t leave, but need to get away.

My New Compostable Shipping Envelopes

My new shipping bags

I’m not surprised that I woke up early this morning thinking about my shipping envelopes.

For a while, I’ve been trying to find new envelopes to mail my potholders and wool in.  Something lighter than the padded ones I’ve been using which are all paper, but add unnecessary weight (which is an environmental concern) when shipping them.

When I tried to find a new kind of envelope a while back all I found were Tyvek envelopes which Dupont and claims are recyclable.  But the only way to recycle them is to send them back to Dupont.  Not something I can imagine anyone really doing.

But this time I found so many different options, I was having a hard time figuring out which would be best for me.

Most of the envelopes I found are made from recycled paper and are just a lightweight kind of cardboard which can be recycled with other kinds of paper or cardboard.  And even if they were to end up in a landfill, it’s not like dumping plastic.

But then I found a company called noIssue. who makes shipping envelopes that are corn-based and can be composted with your other organic matter.   They biodegrade in just six months. And even if people aren’t composting them in their backyards, they won’t add anything toxic to a landfill.

They do need to be stored in a cool dark place and  have a shelf life of 9 months, which all work fine for me.

So I ordered some and got an email saying they’d get to me on February 21st.

That’s when I started to look around for more envelopes that I could get quicker since I’m just about out of my padded ones.  And that’s why I couldn’t fall back to sleep this morning thinking about which envelopes to buy.

Then, this afternoon, I came into the house from my studio and sitting on the dining room table was a small box filled with my new compostable envelopes.

Tomorrow I’m planning on finishing up the batch of potholders I made last week and putting the ones I haven’t already sold up for sale in my Etsy Shop. And when I ship them out, they’ll go in my new environmentally friendly envelopes.

I can’t wait to use them.

Working On My Botanical Quilt

It’s Bellydancing day, so a short workday for me.  I meant to stop working on my new quilt earlier so I could blog, but I got caught up in it and now I have only a few minutes before I have to feed the animals and get ready for my class.

But I did get a lot done on my quilt, I’m almost all done…

I still need a thin strip of fabric on the top of the quilt and the piece I sewed on the bottom might be a bit too heavy.  But I can’t make that decision now.  I look at it tomorrow and figure out what to do.

When I look at this quilt, I keep thinking of it as a place to go.  Like a Trompe-l’oeil wallpaper, that just takes you away for a moment or two.

Fate And Zinnia In The Woods

Although it’s only the second time that Fate and Zinnia and I have walked in the woods together, it feels like it’s become a regular thing already.  Fate, who often snarls at Zinnia in the house (although less than she had been) seems to completely accept her on our walks.  And Zinnia seems to get that the walks aren’t about playing.

Zinnia did some sniffing around and even when she found something good to eat, she still came back to me when I called her.  I guess the treats I had were tastier than what she found under the leaves.

I’m not sure how long that will last, but I’ll be sure to keep carrying treats with me and reinforce what she’s already doing.

Botanical Quilt

I started my day by undoing.  A while back I sewed a border around the fabric with the tree on it in the photo above.  It’s been hanging on my studio wall since then.  But today I removed that border and started over.

When I was cleaning up my studio I put aside some fabric that I thought would work well with the tree and today I started working on making it into a quilt.  Not only did the tree call to me, but the colors did too.

I don’t remember who sent me that gorgeous piece of fabric with the flowers and their roots.  They all seem to be ascending to me.

This is as far as I got today.

I didn’t get to sew that panel on the right and still have to find a small piece for the bottom of it.  As much as I wanted to keep working on it, by the time I got this far, I was just too tired, in body and mind to do more.

Twin Trees, Healing Trees


I didn’t feel like following anyone else’s path.  So I walked through the woods with Fate following me, not thinking about anything but where to put my feet next.

And that’s how we found the twin trees, growing side by side, their roots covered in soft, bright green moss.

Healing Trees.

I’d been walking for at least an hour, was it them I was looking for all along.  I sat between the tow leaning my back against one, my boots curled against the other, the moss surprisingly dry and warm.

I closed my eyes and let the thoughts and feelings run through me.  I let them come and go without indulging them but letting them have their full say.  And when I was done, I got up, stepped back and Fate stepped between the trees where I had just been.

I fumbled getting my iPhone out of my coat, silently asking her to stay, which she did, as she always does, as if she knows, which she probably does.

What did I feel when I sat between the trees?  I felt safe, like I could have stayed there forever, like they were waiting for me.

Drawing At The Mansion

Drawing at The Mansion

I collected some things from around the house and made a still-life to bring to The Mansion today. I set them up on the table in the activities room.

Madeline was sitting on the couch so I asked her if she’d like to do some drawing.  She replied as she usually does “Oh I’m not so good at drawing”.  But Madeline is usually willing to be a part of whatever is going on.

And by now I know it’s not true that Madeline can’t draw.  She can and she likes to.

Claudia was already at the table waiting and then Georgiana and Nancy came into the room wanting to know what was going on.

I gave everyone a piece of paper and without my saying a word, each person took one of the objects I had put on the table and started tracing it’s outline on the paper. Then with a little encouragement from me, every once in a while, they each made a drawing that I would never have anticipated.


Claudia chose the pink vase with the peacock feather in it.

Georgiana and Nancy

Georgiana helped Nancy add a little more color to her drawing.


The ceramic shoe that Georgiana traced turned into snake people and then she added a drawing of a smiling Nancy at the top.

And once Madeline finished her drawing of the griffin she traced, she added some more drawings that she made up.

I liked that no one drew what I thought they might.  And that everyone really did get into drawing after a while and seemed to be doing it, not because I was there, but because they were enjoying it.


Full Moon Fiber Art